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Newly-Released Warrants Say Police Drove Julissa Thaler Home Before Discovering Eli Hart's Body In Trunk

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Newly-released search warrants show new details about the police investigation into Eli Hart's shooting death, including that police actually drove the his suspected killer home after releasing her from the scene.

The 6-year-old was killed last week, and his body was discovered after a traffic stop in Orono. His cause of death was listed as multiple shotgun wounds, with the manner of death being homicide.

His mother, 28-year-old Julissa Thaler, has been charged with murder and taken into custody. She made her first court appearance Tuesday afternoon.

According to Dakota County court documents, Hart was at the center of a custody battle between Thaler and his biological father. He was also placed into foster care in January of 2021 after concerns grew of his mother's mental health, her criminal history and living situation.

According to the criminal complaint, Thaler had recently wanted to learn how to use a gun, so she went with a friend to the gun range. Court documents say she would often carry a shotgun out of her apartment, wrapped in a gray blanket. A gray blanket was also located in the trunk during the traffic stop.

On Friday, authorities released search warrants in the investigation, which includes the Orono Police Department, Minnetrista police, the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office and Hennepin County Medical Examiner's Office.

eli hart
Eli Hart (credit: CBS)

The search warrants indicate that an Orono officer noted that Thaler's vehicle had its back window smashed out and was driving on the rim of the front driver's-side tire. The officer noted that there was also a bullet hole in the rear passenger seat.

The officer noted that Thaler looked disheveled and had what appeared to be blood on her hands and face, and in the back of the vehicle as well. When asked about the appearance of blood in the back of the vehicle, the warrant says she blamed it on a variety of things, including that she had been carrying deer meat from a butcher in her car, and that it was menstrual blood.

The documents indicate that while officers were working to determine if the vehicle had been involved in another incident, Thaler grew impatient, cold and refused to sit in a squad. Police released her from the scene and took her home. Only after she left the scene did they discover the body in the vehicle's trunk.

When officers went to arrest Thaler at her apartment, they found that she had placed the clothes she was wearing in the washing machine and was trying to leave on foot.

If convicted, she could face up to 40 years in prison.

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